parenting, school psychology

The Weight of This Work

Last night I was a blubbering, sobbing mess for no apparent reason. OK, obviously there was a reason, since I am a pretty reasonable person. However, my husband and I were discussing plans for our daughter’s upcoming second birthday did not warrant the puddle of uncontrollable sorrow that I melted into in the middle of our discussion.

Today I find myself feeling heavy. As I walked down the hallway of one of my schools I felt like I was being pushed down by the weight of my work.  For the past three years one of my primary assignments has been working with middle school students with emotional disabilities. These students are struggling with mental health issues that make it impossible for them to access their education without intensive therapeutic supports built into their school day.  These students’ needs are so significant that they require a specialized program and cannot attend their neighborhood school. These children are unique and they need a lot of therapy. I feel fortunate to work in a school division that offers this level of support to students who need it. But, it is heavy work.

I am also feeling the weight of my work on a grant funded project to change the way we approach school discipline. The stakes are high and the pressure is great.

The weight of being someone’s mother and of being someone’s wife is no less significant. My work shows me how fragile children’s spirits are and what happens when things go terribly wrong.  This does nothing to ease the constant worry about what might happen to my own child and what we should do to protect her and keep her safe from harm.

The weight of it all feels so heavy, sometimes.

As a working mother I put so much pressure on myself to get it all right, all the time.  Whether we stay at home or work outside the home, there is always something we probably aren’t doing “right”. Is my child eating enough? Is my child eating too much? Is my child meeting all the developmental milestones in a timely fashion? Am I doing everything I can to foster her growth and development? Am I working hard enough to continue to grow and advance my career? Can I get it all done? When’s the last time I dusted something?

I started today feeling buried under the weight of it all, it gave me a chance to pause and reflect on the pressures of my job as a psychologist and a mom. It quickly occurred to me that I am strong, that I can carry this weight but, more importantly, I do not do it alone. I am so grateful for my husband and amazing partner who seems as though he could carry our whole world on his swimmer’s shoulders. I have friends who I am watching come into their own as mothers and who are a great source of comfort, support, and advice. I have older colleagues who have paved the way and remind me that, while it is hard, it can be done.

Maybe noticing the weight of this work is just what I needed today. I feel lighter already.